County approves bid for Cushing project

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

When they met Thursday, Leavenworth County commissioners authorized the payment of up to $3 million for remodeling a section of the former Saint Luke's Cushing Hospital building.

The renovated space will serve as the new home for the Council on Aging.

County commissioners typically meet on Wednesdays. But this week's meeting was moved to Thursday so members of the County Commission could attend a Kansas Association of Counties conference in Overland Park.

Cushing Hospital closed last year and the building was donated to the county government.

Aaron Yoakam, buildings and grounds director for the county, said about 20,000 square feet of the Cushing building's first floor will be remodeled for the Council on Aging. He said this will provide enough space to allow social distancing during COA activities.

The Council on Aging currently operates out of a building that is not owned by the county government.

Yoakam said the renovations at the Cushing building should be completed before the county would have to renew its lease for the current COA home. It is anticipated the remodeling work will be completed in the summer.

Yoakam told commissioners Thursday that 11 general contractors submitted bids for the Cushing project.

He said a selection committee reviewed the bids and recommended the one submitted by Sands Construction Co., Leavenworth. The company submitted the lowest bid.

Yoakam said an architectural firm estimated the project would cost $2.8 million. Sand Construction submitted a bid for $2.749 million.

Yoakam asked commissioners to allow for an additional 10% as a contingency reserve.

County Administrator Mark Loughry suggested commissioners authorize an amount not to exceed $3 million for the project.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the bid from Sands Construction and authorized up to $3 million for the project.

Loughry said the county will pay for the project using federal funds it received as a result of the American Rescue Plan Act.

Commissioners have discussed additional possible uses for the Cushing building. Earlier this year, they approved a lease agreement that will allow a for-profit psychiatric hospital to operate out of a portion of the building.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Were advised by County Counselor David Van Parys to declare a special use permit granted last year to Kaw Valley Companies to be on hold while a case is pending with the Kansas Court of Appeals.

Commissioners approved the special use permit for the operation of a sand quarry in the area of 166th Street and Lenape Road.

Kaw Valley Companies objected to one of the conditions placed on the special use permit and filed an appeal in Leavenworth County District Court.

Earlier this year, a district judge ruled in favor of the County Commission. Kaw Valley Companies has appealed the decision to the Kansas Court of Appeals.

Van Parys said the appeal could take up to 18 months to be resolved.

The county counselor said commissioners have received emails and phone calls about the special use permit. Van Parys said he wanted to clarify his recommendation to commissioners.

"The arrow is in the air," Van Parys said. "Until that arrow lands, do nothing."

• Approved a resolution to make changes to the county's gravel road dust control policy for 2022.